Grants, street & sewer work, Old City Park improvements top Boyne City Commission meeting agenda

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Benjamin Gohs

News Editor

The Boyne City Commission convened for its bimonthly meeting on Tuesday March 11, during which numerous items of interest were discussed.

Among the various items of interest were an ISD millage renewal, Old City Park improvements, Mountain Mayhem expansion request, infrastructure grant moneys and new street and sewer projects.

The meeting began by Boyne City Manager Michael Cain giving commissioners an update on city business.

Frozen pipes

Cain urged Boyne area residents to continue running a thin stream of cold water from a faucet in their home or business to help avoid the chance for pipes to freeze. Despite some warm, sunny days, pipes could still freeze due to the deeper-than-normal frost in the ground. Residents are urged to continue running their water until further notice.

Go toward the light

On the south side of the 100 block of Water Street, across from Red Mesa Grill, there is a sample LED streetlight head on display. The new light is more efficient than the older style of lights. The city is looking for input on the look of the light to help it determine whether to purchase more of that type of light in its efforts to update and replace older city streetlights.

DIG it

The first public informational meetings on the East and Ray Streets DIG grant projects are expected to be scheduled soon. Look for the time, date and place of these meetings in a future edition of the Boyne City Gazette.

Career/Tech millage renew

The Boyne City Commission received correspondence from the Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District regarding its upcoming May 6 election.

“We will ask voters to renew (the) expiring millage for career and technical programs commonly known as Voc Ed.,” stated Char-Em ISD Superintendent Richard Diebold in the Feb. 25 letter to Boyne City officials. “These programs are strongly desired by our business community, help to prepare a trained workforce and contribute to the economic vibrancy of our region.”
Char-Em ISD officials had considered delaying the millage renewal request until August to reduce election costs. However, ISD officials learned that doing so would increase costs and would be unnecessarily disruptive.

“A series of events would unfold if the ISD were to delay the election from one fiscal year (school fiscal years begin July 1) into the next by switching from May until August,” Diebold stated. “Without voter approval of these important revenues, Michigan’s Uniform Budgeting Act would not allow the revenue to be included in the 2014-2015 budget, which is required by Michigan law to be approved prior to the start of the school fiscal year, July 1.”
He further stated, “As a result, every one of the 11 local constituent districts within our service area would be unable to include their portion of these revenues in their 2014-2015 budgets as well.”

According to Diebold, since Michigan law prohibits unapproved moneys to be budgeted, the ISD and its 11 school districts would not be able to ensure that employees funded by the Career Tech Millage could continue providing their services.

“This would require all 12 school districts to lay off these employees prior to the end of this school year, making them immediately eligible for unemployment benefits over the course of the entire summer,” Diebold stated. “The aggregate cost of unemployment is far greater than any additional election day-related costs.”

Additionally, Diebold stated, man-hours, legal fees related to layoff and recall procedures, the revising and amending of budgets, configuring and reconfiguring student class schedules—among other issues—would create otherwise avoidable expenses and add difficulties to the situation.

“School Districts (which) pushed traditional May school elections into the next fiscal year would also suffer significant complications related to summer tax collections since Michigan’s General Property Tax Act requires that county and township treasurers be notified of millage rates prior to June 1,” Diebold stated. “These complications would negate the purpose of summer tax collection and would force schools to borrow against anticipated tax revenues adding legal and interest costs and forfeiting any investment revenues.”

Rotary Club sign changes

The Boyne City Rotary Club requested approval to erect plaques at the new concession stand and restroom facility in the Rotary Park pavilion and on the green, two-story building near the Veterans Park Little League baseball field.

The club also requested to upgrade its signage at five locations around Boyne City.

These efforts are expected to come at no cost to city taxpayers.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the requests.

Mayhem requests

Michigan Mountain Mayhem cycling event organizer Paul Nicholls requested approval to sell alcohol during a pre-registration party—Friday June 13—to be held along the 100 block of Water Street between Park and Lake streets. Nicholls also requested to expand the fenced-in area in order to accommodate the registration area as it was located outside the fenced-in area last year.

A second option proposed by Nicholls was to fence off the intersections of Park and Lake streets as well as the pedestrian walkway to the Boyne Riverwalk so the entire block would be open for alcohol consumption.

According to Nicholls’ proposal, security would be positioned at each entry point to check identifications and put wristbands on attendees 21 years old or older, and to ensure no one leaves the area with alcohol.

Boyne City Police Chief Jeff Gaither said he attended last year’s event and there were no problems. He said he had not concerns with the event occurring again; and that he supported the proposed expansion of the event.

Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord said he had concerns with the proposal to open up the entire block to the party. He also said he had concerns with allowing the sale of alcohol.

“I have talked to quite a few citizens and they are not in favor of alcohol in the streets right there or the sidewalks and I cannot support the alcohol factor,” Gaylord said.

Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said he supports the event, adding that there were no known incidents the previous year.

Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer asked who serves the alcohol. Nicholls said one of the restaurants downtown did and he would offer them the first right of refusal this year as well.

“I too support the concept, the area and I think bringing 1,500 people to our town is amazing,” Neidhamer said… “It helps our downtown businesses.”

Neidhamer said one of the main issues brought up concerning the alcohol sales was congestion on public sidewalks, adding that congestion would not be an issue in this instance.

“I think it adds to the ambiance, excitement of downtown,” Neidhamer said.

Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch asked what happens if a food truck or another food vendor would like to set up. Nicholls said the inside of the party area would be blocked off. Neidhamer said it would be up to Nicholls on who is allowed into the event.

Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom asked how the party would coincide with the first Stroll the Streets event of the year, especially whether the bad would drown out the Stroll the Streets musicians.

Sansom said she did notice people leaving the area with drinks in their hands last year.

Gaylord said he would not object to a liquor license if the event were to be held in Sunset Park as opposed to right in the downtown area.

The commission voted 3-2 to approve the proposal; Sansom and Gaylord both voted “no.”

Downtown Infrastructure

The Boyne City Commission unanimously accepted the offer of a $583,519 grant. That award amount is approximately 70 percent of the total estimated cost of a city street, curb and gutter project estimated at $833,600.

The city was offered the funds during a recent check-handing ceremony at the Boyne District Library.

A public informational session will now be scheduled, and the city has until Dec. 31 of this year to complete the project if it wishes to utilize the maximum grant allocated to it.

These grant moneys will help reconstruct one block of South East Street, two blocks of Ray Street and an alley south of the 100 block of Water Street between Lake and Park streets.

According to city officials, the project will include complete replacement of the roadways, necessary curbs, sidewalks and underground utilities owned by the city.

Aesthetic street enhancements like brick pavers, trees and new streetlights will also be included in the project. Overhead utilities will be relocated underground where possible.

The city’s share of expenses—roughly $250,081 in local funds—will come from the city’s street, water, waste-water and Main Street funds.

“Grant money makes your local money go a lot further and I applaud our staff and department heads for always putting Boyne City on the map to receive some really good moneys,” said Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer. “It allows us to be a leader in Northern Michigan.
Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom said she supported the plan and asked when the project would begin.

Cain said the preliminary time-frame for the start of the project will be August.

Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord said he supported the project from the beginning.

Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch also supported the motion to go forward with the project.

In a related matter, the Boyne City Commission voted unanimously to appoint the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance(NLEA)—at a cost not to exceed $10,000—to provide grant administration assistance to the city on the Downtown Infrastructure Grant.

Gaylord asked if the $10,000 fee was negotiated or if it was the first fee proposed by the NLEA. Cain said it was the generally accepted fee, adding that the NLEA has always treated the city fairly in their business dealings.

Pleasant, Division project

According to city officials, now that the short-term fixes have outlived their usefulness, portions of Division Street and Pleasant Valley from Division to Prospect streets need to be resurfaced.

“As you recall we have had some issues on Pleasant and Division streets both,” said Boyne City Superintendent of Parks and Streets Andy Kovolski.

Originally the city was looking to mill and resurface the existing roadway along Pleasant Street from Division Street south to the city limits and on Division Street from Pleasant Street to Front Street at a total cost of $162,500 with the city paying $32,500.

The project was expected to extend the road’s life by seven to 10 years.

Last June, however, the city discovered that grant moneys were available which would allow the city to add a storm sewer revamp on Pleasant Street from Division Street to Prospect Street as part of the overall project at a total estimated cost of $314,033—with grant moneys accounting for $242,500 and a net cost to the city of $71,533 and $18,900 for engineering for a total cost to the city of $90,433.

The project was awarded to the low bidder Reith Riley Construction at a cost of $302,996.17.

The city hopes to break ground in May if the weather permits.

That portion of the project was unanimously approved by the commission.

The engineering and sewer portion of the project was then discussed.

The sanitary sewer along Pleasant from Trent to Prospect streets needs to be replaced.

Portions of the sewers in question have “considerable” root infiltration, which have cracks and could cause several areas to collapse during construction, adding to the project.

According to city officials, construction in the area proposed is difficult due to detours needed to allow work between Prospect and Ann streets.

The cost estimate to replace the sanitary sewer from Trent to Prospect streets is $120,000.

Design and bidding services costs are $9,800.

The funds for design and bidding this project are already allotted in the 2014 budget, and the project must be completed prior to the end of this budget year.

The funds for the construction portion of the project will have to come out of the 2015 budget.

Gaylord asked if the city would be able to transition into the construction portion directly after the sewer project is completed, adding that he wants to see those projects completed end to end.

Boyne City Water and Waste-water Superintendent Dan Meads said there are no guarantees, but that city officials will do their best to coordinate the projects with the respective contractors.

The project was unanimously approved.

Community Growth Grant

Connecting visitors to Boyne with food, lodging, events and vital services could get much easier with the help of a Community Growth Grant.

Boyne City Commissioners recently approved a measure to seek a $7,500 grant through the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments which would allow the city to renovate the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce’s existing kiosk so that it may display pertinent information concerning businesses, restrooms, recreational sites, trail routes and other items of interest to visitors; also, new way-finding signage that directs visitors to city facilities, businesses and recreational sites; and, finally, the creation of a WiFi hotspot in Old City Park to encourage people to stop at the park and to offer them the ability to gather information on local places of interest.

“This is on creating an environment to boost the local economy as well as, among other things, the green visions transportation initiative, which is providing more pedestrian-friendly and walkable cities,” Boyne City Assistant Planner Annie Doyle told commissioners during their Tuesday March 11 meeting.

According to city officials, the grant places emphasis on the creation of conditions that would further investment locally.

“In our current Trail Towns development process, recreational trails leading into the community have been identified that will bring hikers, bikers, kayakers, canoes, etc. into the downtown area and to the local businesses,” Doyle stated in a March 7 memo to city officials. “A key part of this design process is creating a centrally located trail head that provides information about what people can do once they are in our city. Both the Trail Town Committee and the parks and recreation commission have recommended Old City Park as this location.”

The kiosk would cost roughly $1,000, though Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer and local business The Woodshop have offered to donate the labor for the renovation of the kiosk.

The way-finding signage is expected to cost roughly $10,000.

And, the WiFi service is estimated at a cost of $4,000.

This will be the third time the city has applied for this grant.

“Hopefully the third time’s a charm,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain… “I think with the addition of the kiosk and the trail head elements this will give us an even more competitive chance than we had in the past.”

Neidhamer said he supported the measure, adding that it would enhance the park and the town in general.

Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said directional signage and information about the city are both important.

Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord asked how the grant was funded, adding that the concept gives him “some pause.”
“I think it’s important that communities retain their individuality… If you have everybody doing the same thing—you referenced the ‘Grand Vision’ like transportation—that means somebody or some bodies have a ‘vision’ of what transportation should be and how it should run,” Gaylord said. “That may or may not be exactly what the local community wants long-term.”

Gaylord mentioned his previous vote against the Trail Towns initiative, adding that the current proposal falls along the same lines.

The grant is part of a program which has been providing technical and financial assistance support to the six counties located in the Grand Vision region. Charlevoix is one of those counties.

According to The Grand Vision website (www.thegrandvision.org) “The Grand Vision is an ambitious, citizen-led vision for the future of land use, transportation, economic development and environmental stewardship across six counties in northwest lower Michigan…. Governmental bodies are collaborating, business leaders are seeing the benefits of a focused vision for the future, community members are reaping the rewards, projects are completed and others underway, and several diverse interests are coming together within issue networks that include Food & Farming, Energy, Growth &

Investment, Housing, Natural Resources and Transportation.”

Gaylord said he believes a large amount of visitors have smart phones or other devices that already have internet, and therefore probably don’t need WiFi in the park.

The grant would require a local match of $7,500.

“I think to put $7,500 even of our own taxpayer money into having WiFi in a certain small sector of the Old City Park area, I don’t think that’s a fantastic use of our money,” Gaylord said… “I have some concerns about the project and the groups that are involved in the program.”

Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom said she is happy to see the kiosk is being brought back. She also supported the way-finding signage initiative and said the WiFi could be a good addition to the park.

Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch said he feels the effort would be helpful to the city.

The motion was approved 4-1; Gaylord was the lone “no” vote.